Blogging with Chinese characteristics
It did not quite tickle Amit Varma enough, but the Indian government did deliver a small surprise recently when it announced that it is seriously considering providing official accreditation to bloggers and other ‘internet journalists’. Not that this will be any easier than getting a driving license, but it does present an opportunity for interested bloggers to lurk around the corridors of power and ask uncomfortable questions at official government media conferences. With some luck, Indian diplomatic missions around the world too will extend accreditation to bloggers living abroad.
In sharp contrast, China’s reaction to ‘internet journalism’ has been along predictable lines. Blogspot and Blogger are locked out behind the Great Firewall of China. And as CDT reports, the Chinese government ‘has formed a special force of undercover online commentators to try and sway public opinion’.
The best use real Indian bloggers can make of the opportunity is not so much to sway public opinion — which does not require a government license — but to ask those questions that the mainstream media is failing to ask. As for China, it has just become more difficult for real Chinese bloggers to sound convincing when they actually support their government.